A Good Day For a “Hot” Dog

Or anything to keep you warm.  Winter conditions are just not going away without an epic fight.  The world of NASCAR is no different.  After a week in sunny California, they travel back east to the real world.  We have already had our season worth of rain delays.  And now we wake up to this at Martinsville Speedway.  I guess we’ll see how the “Air Titan” works in the snow.  In all honesty, it was only a dusting, and will probably be melted when the sun comes out, but it made a good opening paragraph.

The Sprint Cup series heads into this week’s race boasting 5 different winners in the first five races.  Considering those who have dominated races here in recent history, (Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Denny Hamlin) haven’t won yet, it is a very real possibility that we will see a sixth this week.

The first NASCAR race here was back in 1948, and the track was a dirt-track until 1955.  The concrete corners were added to the asphalt surface in 1976, making this track exceptionally difficult to dial a car in perfectly for.  There is a lot of compromise in setting up to handle on two different surfaces.

Among active drivers, Jeff Gordon has the most poles with seven.  He will start fifth today, but will most likely be a factor all day long, as in 42 previous starts here, he has never had a DNF.  Gordon and his teammate in the #48, Jimmie Johnson are tied for the most wins here with eight apiece.  Denny Hamlin with four, and Tony Stewart with three are the only other multiple winners in the field today.  Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams with 21 total victories here.  21 of the 130 previous events (16.1%) have been won from the pole, where Kyle Busch starts today.  That is the most productive starting spot, which makes sense on a track where you have to move your opponents out of the way.  Check out this race recap from last season.

36 races have been won from the front row. (27.6%) Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin hope that holds true today.  95 of the 130 (73%) have been won from a top-ten starting position, and only five winners started outside the top-20.  Last week, tires were more important than track position.  That should not be the case today.  If you get the lead in the second half of this one, you don’t want to give it up, as a dominant car can quickly become an also-ran.

Dale Earnhardt leads all drivers with seven runner-up finishes here.  The Hendrick duo of Gordon (4) and Johnson (3) lead all active drivers.  Hmmmm.  Gordon and Johnson lead all drivers…. Where have I seen that before?  Oh yeah.  EVERY SINGLE WEEK…

Top-fives:  Gordon 27, Johnson 17

Top-tens:  Gordon 34, Johnson 21

Three active drivers have an average Martinsville finish inside the top-ten:  Johnson (5.333), Gordon (6.833), and Hamlin (8.125).

This race seems rather easy to handicap…which by the way, I would like to remind anyone who will listen, I picked Kyle Busch last week.  I think we will see a sixth different team in victory lane at the end of this one.  it is quite a leap of faith, to go this far out on a limb, but I think Jeff Gordon gets it done for the ninth time at the Virginia paperclip.

Check out all the action at noon on KORN Country, 100.3 FM, or listen live at www.korncountry.com

Don’t forget to join in the discussion on my Facebook page.

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